August 22, 2015

ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE

EXPLORING SOME OF THE GREATEST CIVILIZATIONS


Narrated by Michael Caroll and hosted by actor cum history professor Peter Weller, the History Channel documentary series - Engineering an Empire was originally telecast between October 2006 and January 2007. In fact, the precursor to the series, titled 'Rome' was a massive hit and it won two Emmys out of the four categories it was nominated in, way back in 2006. It was the success of the premiere that prompted the makers to produce an entire series regarding some of the greatest civilizations that sprang up in various parts of the world across the ages.

With a run time of approximately 45 minutes per episode, the series talks about fourteen different human cultures that defied all odds and pushed the frontier of human imagination as far as arts, science, technology, architecture and warfare are concerned. Since the makers have not restricted themselves to any particular period in human history, we travel from pre-Christian civilizations from Egypt, Rome and China to modern power houses of Europe including Britain, France and Russia. The use of computer graphics to explain the advancement of these peoples particularly in architecture and warfare makes the series all the more interesting. And Peter Weller's coarse voice and enthusiasm that he puts in is another positive. Not many historians have this art of engaging the audience. The 14 civilizations covered include:

(1) Rome

(2) Egypt

(3) Greece

(4) Greece: The Age of Alexander

(5) The Aztecs

(6) Carthage

(7) The Maya: Death Empire

(8) Russia

(9) Britain: Iron and Blood

(10) The Persians

(11) China

(12) Napoleon: Steel Monster

(13) The Byzantines

(14) Da Vinci's World


On the flip side, the series fails to do justice to the Asian cultures while focusing more on Europe. Civilizations like India, the Arab world and Japan seemed to be ignored completely. Certainly, it would have been better to add these to the list. However, this is something that one can ignore considering that the series makes for a decent viewing.